Speaking from receiving-end experience, I know an effective therapist from a poor one. And the only thing that irks me more than amateurs playing shrink, is shrinks acting amateurish. Both together, though, drives me downright nuts. So when I saw this piece of crap article, titled “Psychiatrists put Chávez on the couch”, on a Spanish news site, I found myself irresistibly tempted to analyze an obviously piss-poor bunch of analysts. Crazy, huh? So, with no further ado, here’s my translation, with periodic interjections and analysis:
Right off the bat, you can see how the author of the piece cunningly lays her trap. The real issue is the Venezuelan parliamentary election coming up on the 26th, but she buries that in the second paragraph. Instead, she chooses to lead with misdirection: the (imaginary) personality faults of Hugo Chávez, duly constituted president of Venezuela. Notice, too, that she wraps all Venezuelan shrinks in the same blanket. In this reporter’s little world, ALL of them think he’s crazy. And no one who thinks otherwise is allowed to get a word in, as you will see.And of course, the lying starts from the get-go. Aside from the imaginary personality traits attributed to Chávez, there is the accusation that he’s committing electoral fraud by openly supporting his candidates for assembly seats. This is a lie. As leader of the PSUV, he is within his rights to support his own party’s candidates on the campaign trail; it would be crazy if he didn’t. In any other country, such campaign support would be a given. Why is it out of line in Venezuela? (Rhetorical question; the answer will come in due course.)And oh yeah, as an aside, notice the other neat little bit of misdirection here: No mention at all of what the opposition leaders and candidates are up to. That’s because they’re all discredited relics from the Puntofijista/Fourth Republic past, and therefore bound to lose. For that reason, most have not even bothered to mount the most desultory campaign; those that have, are still lagging by double digits in the polls. Little wonder, then, that the hoary old “Chávez is loco” canard is being dragged out of mothballs yet again–he’s the only one showing signs of life!
Mythomaniac, megalomaniac, fabulator, compulsive, narcissist, charismatic, seducer, envious, lacking in scruples. These are some of the traits Venezuelan psychiatrists attribute to their president, Hugo Chávez, who has been in power nearly twelve years, not counting “the missing ones”. And, despite the fact that no previous president has spent more than ten years in power, he is now on the road to running in the presidential elections of 2012.In the meantime, he himself is directing the campaign for the legislative elections which will be held on September 26, much more than legal norms allow.
“Specialists”–“consulted” by whom? Surely not Chavecito himself. These “consulted specialists” are nothing more than cheap political soundbite providers. Notice, too, as the article goes on, that the charges of “abusing state resources” and “turning legislative elections into a plebiscite” are not backed up by the least shred of evidence. That’s because there isn’t any. Instead, the focus is on crazy, sexy craziness, in a masterpiece of misdirection…
But surely transgressing against established norms–such as heading the electoral campaign for his parliamentary candidates, abusing state resources, and turning legislative elections into a plebiscite–it’s another of his personality traits which is emphasized by consulted specialists–the need to call attention to himself.
María, María, María…he’s the president. He gets constant admiration because his policies are effective and therefore popular; no narcissistic “explanation” required. And he actually understands the meaning of limitations quite well; everything he’s done has been within the norms of the Venezuelan constitution. He even puts himself to a popular vote and wins! How narcissistic!
“He’s a person who needs constant admiration; he shows preoccupation with his fantasies of power, seems not to understand the meaning of limitations, has no notion of proportion, thinks he is special or unique, there is no institution that deserves his respect, and requires excessive admiration, always in public,” says psychologist and psychotherapist María Bustamante.
Um, since when is a famous Colombian novelist a “consulted specialist”? He is NOT a shrink! Gabriel García Márquez, you may recall, is famous for his work in the field of fiction known as Magical Realism. And his “Two Chávezes” is more a work of poetic fancy than a literal interpretation of the personality of this leader, whom García likes, admires and politically sympathizes with, himself. I don’t think he would like to be read so literally as to be insinuating that Chávez is schizophrenic, or has a multiple-personality disorder.
For insight into his conduct, you have to recall those days in February 1999, when Gabriel García Márquez wrote his famous article “The Enigma of the Two Chávezes”: “One, to whom unalterable fate offered the opportunity to save his country, and the other, an illusionist, who could pass into history as just another despot.”
ZOMG histrionics! Actually, this is not such different conduct from that of his rivals and predecessors, all of whom cultivated celebrities–mostly local, occasionally foreign–with sympathetic views. What’s notable here, though, is that Chavecito’s support extends well beyond the usual vacuous beauty-queen contingent that trails the AD/COPEI crowd; the celebrities he attracts have reputations as the intellectuals of their field, and are extremely well respected worldwide, not just in Venezuela.
Many would give him the Oscar for the best portrayal of a politician in Venezuela. He likes to invite Hollywood celebrities like Oliver Stone, Sean Penn and Danny Glover, who, like him, are members of the same profession: that of the politico-actor.
Hmmm. Why do I get the feeling that this former army officer is just bitter and envious of Chavecito, who retired from the military with the rank of a mere lieutenant-colonel himself and then went on to become president? Maybe he’s pissed that he wasn’t promoted to general, or chief of staff, or
His vocation for the interpretative arts was born in the military academy, where he trod the boards in the theatre. Former director of budgets for the Ministry of Defence, Colonel Orlando Suárez, a former professor of Chávez’s, told ABC that “Once he played the role of General José Antonio Páez in an academy play. He has natural theatrical gifts, exacerbated by his narcissistic tendency, but before, he was shy and retiring.”Colonel Suárez does not hold a very favorable opinion of Chávez, whom he trained in parachuting in 1983 and 1984. He recalls that Chávez “turned pale with fear when it came time to jump. He always looked for an excuse not to do it. He is a coward by nature.” In the military academy he was always in one of the last places in his class. “He failed his leadership course exam. He had to repeat the entire course to graduate. And he only managed it thanks to his family’s influence with ex-president Rafael Caldera.” Colonel Suárez considers Chávez “more ‘toasted’ “(crazy, in Venezuelan slang) than ex-president Abdalá Bucaram of Ecuador, who was expelled from power due to his “eccentricities”.
some such; his words reek of resentment. There are so many inconsistencies and outright lies in his statements that it’s obvious he couldn’t keep his story straight. How could Chavecito manage to play the role of General Páez–a major revolutionary hero, and one of his leadership role models–while being “shy and retiring”? (Actually, that last bit is definitely bullshit; the pre-academy Chavecito is widely remembered, according to Bart Jones’s bio of him, as outgoing, full of fun, a hard worker, and fond of baseball and singing. And about as shy and retiring as a roaring waterfall.)As for turning pale with fear when confronted with parachute jumping: Hell, who wouldn’t be? I’m sure plenty of others were green around the gills, too. No one is NOT nervous the first time they jump out of an airplane; it’s a great way to get yourself killed, and so much can go wrong even if you’re well prepared. It’s perfectly natural and rational, therefore, to be afraid. But apparently Chavecito mastered the art just fine, because he later got command of a paratroop regiment. You don’t get there unless you can jump, and do so fearlessly. Plus, Chavecito later survived an attempt on his life with real courage, and not an iota of cowardice. So yeah, I call bullshit on this one too.And at the bottom of his class? In LEADERSHIP, of all things? You guessed it, bullshit. One thing that strikes me, every time I view The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, is what a tremendous natural rapport Chavecito has with his soldiers, and how easily he inspires loyalty in them. That’s not just charisma; that’s competence. Their loyalty, in fact, was what saved his life when the coupmongers imprisoned him on the island of La Orchila. You don’t get that by flunking in leadership skills training, much less getting your dad to exercise his pull with, of all people, Rafael Caldera, who was NOT president in 1983-4 (that was Jaime Lusinchi). And when Chavecito was in military academy, ten years earlier, Caldera WAS president, but Hugo Chávez Sr. was not exactly someone who had a lot of pull with him. In fact, he had none whatsoever, being a poor schoolteacher from the backwaters of Barinas. So yeah, once more with feeling, everyone: BULLSHIT!
Well, I’m sure María Bustamante would prefer someone colorless and bland, like Rafael Caldera–who, during his own second presidency, in the late 1990s, was obliged to appear in public and lay rest to rumors that he had died. (Yes, he was THAT boring. And sadly, that old.) But is she right about the blind obedience bit?No. Chavecito actually likes to be challenged, and this is something that many who have worked with him have remarked on. He thrives on legitimate contradiction, even from his allies. He doesn’t want yes-men; he’s actively engaged with the needs of his people, and he likes to hear them out. That’s just one of the many reasons why he’s so effective and popular: He LISTENS.As for appearances and costumes: He seems to have only two, both perfectly in character and not crazy in the least. One is the black pants and untucked red shirt he favors for everyday; red being the color of his party (and also the color that suits his own complexion best). The other is his military uniform and red beret, both of which he is still entitled to wear as commander-in-chief. This is “excessively expressionist”? I’d sure like some of whatever María is smoking, it might help me to fall asleep.
Psychologist Bustamante emphasizes the “meritorious” and “caudillo” (petty tyrant) character of Chávez. He creates irrational expectations in order to be treated as someone special, to whom blind obedience is owed. “He turns everyone who thinks differently from himself into despicable enemies, and almost always talks from an elevated position and in a royal tone.” The most obvious aspect of his conduct is exclusion. “He is envious–and feels that others envy him–and has arrogant, holier-than-thou, haughty attitudes.”Bustamante says that as president, he “displays changing and very superficial expressions, uses his physical appearance or costumes to call attention to himself, and has an excessively expressionist discourse style.”
Amazing how he can diagnose all that without seeing Chavecito on his couch on a regular basis! The man must be some kind of psychic. I see a brilliant future ahead for him on a 900-number phone line. But as a shrink? Nyet.One thing that IS significant here, though, is the mention of oil. Remember I mentioned it earlier? That’s what this is really all about. They don’t like a competent, dangerously sane leader being in charge of all that oil, which was incidentally being sneak-privatized just before he entered office. Venezuelan oil has gone up in price, and that’s been all to the good of the Revolution, too. Previous presidents ran the national oil company into the ground, and were all for letting foreigners buy it–and them–out. Not so, Chavecito. He’s no sellout. Not only is he a savvy businessman, he knows how to make that oil work for his country, rather than just sending his country to work for Big Foreign Oil like so many of his predecessors–some of whom were REAL dictators. (Google Juan Vicente Gómez and Marcos Pérez Jiménez, in particular, and you’ll see just what I mean.) I’ve never yet seen a dictator who could take oil money and put it into hospitals, schools and loans to entrepreneurs, instead of just his own pockets and those of his cronies–have you? Yet this is what Chavecito does on a regular basis, and quite happily. It’s called “sowing the oil”, in Venezuela, and it’s something the people just love him for doing–that is, if they’re not displaced former incompetent PDVSA execs.And now, for something truly comical:
Eloy Silvio Pomenta, a professor of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy at the Central University of Venezuela, explained to us that, in an ordinary person, a character marked by narcissism has no power to cause much social disturbance. “But when it comes to a head of state in an important oil-producing country, who also possesses a great capacity for seducing and manipulating the masses, who has his own little intellectual court, and who attracts political and economic leaders who approach him with lucrative offers, the repercussions could be catastrophic.”Pomenta mentions other narcissistic personality traits that Chávez suffers: grandiosity, exhibitionism, a feeling of omnipotence, fragile self-esteem (with depressive crises), incapacity to love (because all his affective capacities are concentrated on his own ego, he is unavailable to others), disconnection from reality, rage, and destructive envy when he is not getting what he wants.
According to psychiatrist Luis José Uzcátegui, author of “Chavez, the Wizard of Emotions”, the leader “has become trapped in a totally outdated psychological structure. I’m referring to Fidel Castro, which is something catastrophical. No country can function with such backward schemes.”He adds that several of Chávez’s traits “are contagious” to his acolytes and followers. “The important thing is that these psycho-political processes are unfolding according to a scheme we’ve already seen: high spending and inefficiency.”On January 15, Chávez officially declared himself a Marxist, though he said he had not read a book of Karl Marx in his life. If he had said so eleven years ago, few people would have voted for him, and he would not be in Miraflores Palace today. His “21st Century Socialism” project, which Fidel Castro called communist last month, was rejected in the referendum of 2007, but he keeps at it, come what may.“Therein lies the danger. There is a type of socialism which is only for antisocials. They invent a socialism of their own to keep themselves in power. Chávez exercises a modern dictatorship, tailored to the times,” Uzcátegui says.Isn’t that hysterical? Once more, the old guilt-by-association thing rears its bedraggled head. Only, as usual, it stinks and won’t wash. Fidel Castro has been vocal in praise of Chavecito’s democratic way of doing things, and while Cuba has benefited from mutual interchange with Venezuela under the ALBA treaty, it’s not as if Venezuela has turned into another Cuba or is in danger of doing so. Everything about Bolivarian Venezuela so far has been very democratic, and very distinctly different from the Cuban revolutionary course.Moreover, the author of this piece is lying about Chávez declaring himself a Marxist on January 15; I think I’d have made note of it here, if that were the case! It would be awfully hard to miss something like that. And without having read Marx? Shenanigans! He read Marx, actually, early on in his military career, after having found an abandoned, bullet-riddled car that had once belonged to some leftist guerrillas. The trunk of the car was full of musty old Marxist literature, which he removed, cleaned up and stashed in a personal library which he and his army buddies later used as they began to organize their Bolivarian military movement. But while Chavecito may draw some of his information and inspiration from Marx, he is emphatically not a Marxist.And no, Fidel didn’t call the Bolivarian revolution “communist”, either; I think I’d have heard of that, if he did. Nor was the revolution rejected in 2007; that was just one vote for term-limit reform, which was later put to another vote and passed. Just more stupid shenanigans on the part of our shoddy journalist. And now, finally, we arrive at the nut (pun intended) of the whole matter:Isn’t that hysterical? Five years ago, those corrupt, discredited old Adecos tried to get Chavecito removed from office on the grounds of insanity, and their efforts failed. Now, five years later, they’re trying again. I guess they expect a different result this time. Well, if that’s not the functional equivalent of insanity, I don’t know what is. Good thing they’re not in power and never will be again; they’d have to be removed, to a man, because they’re all lunatics. And if you don’t believe me, watch AD party leader Henry Ramos Allup and listen to him talk:As the Robertos point out, he’s quite the one for rages and insults, histrionics, egotism and just about everything else the Adecos accuse Chavecito of. For that reason, I have to say that these psychiatrists–amateur or otherwise–who are trying to diagnose Chavecito as insane are…wait for it…PROJECTING. And yes, projection is just one of many signs of real insanity.
The social-democratic party, Acción Democrática (AD), tried in 2005 to accuse Chávez of insanity, which, according to the Constitution, could be a cause to remove him from the presidency, but neither the Supreme Court nor the Attorney General would hear the case. Not long before that, in 2002, the then president of the Venezuelan Psychiatric Society (SVP), Franzel Delgado Senior, alerted the country to the personality problems besetting Chávez. In a statement to ABC, Franzel accused Chávez of leading a kind of cult, “a movement which exhibits an excessive devotion to a person, idea or thing, which uses unethical techniques of manipulation to persuade and control; designed to achieve the leader’s goals.” He concludes: “Psychopaths are very afraid of actions against him. They talk about assassinations. They don’t like that he is called a dictator. But I don’t see him as ultimately democratic. I see him as being like any other other dictator.”